We all know Batman’s origin story. When his parents were gunned down by a mugger, Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to becoming a superhero so he could prevent tragedies like this one from happening again. But imagine if there had been a superhero around that alley that night who was able to save Bruce’s parents. He’d never have become Batman, right? Well, that’s actually what happened in, of all places, a Spider-Man comic.
In 1996’s The Amazing Spider-Man #411, from writer Tom DeFalco and penciller Mark Bagley, Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man – yes, this was part of the Clone Saga – is able to intervene when he witnesses a mugging taking place. The mugger puts a frightened family – consisting of a mother, father and son – at gunpoint to get at the woman’s pearl necklace. Thankfully, Reilly is able to web up the thief’s hands and sock him across the jaw and everyone survives.
Check out the relevant page below:
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As you can see, it’s no secret that this scene is based on Batman’s origins. The family’s just come out of a movie theater, the mother’s wearing pearls and the father and the son are close matches to Thomas and Bruce Wayne. It’s hard to see in this page, but the boy is also sporting the Bat-symbol on his t-shirt. Clearly, DeFalco and Bagley were poking fun at the Distinguished Competition here.
As comic book fans, though, it’s our duty to look deeper into this than is necessary. As this is so close to Batman’s beginnings, we can maybe infer that Bruce Wayne does exist in the Marvel universe – albeit as a New York native, rather than a Gothamite – but Ben Reilly saving his parents stopped him from going along his more familiar path in life. Instead, he was able to enjoy the pampered, happy existence his DC counterpart was denied. And it’s all thanks to Spider-Man.